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I’m Sorry But…

Sometimes the most heartfelt and sincere apologies can be ruined with the word “but” after it. Or, with some qualification that gives with one hand and takes away with the other. For example: “I’m sorry I called you an idiot, but you were acting stupid; “I’m sorry if you think I was being unfair, but so were you”; “I apologize if you didn’t think I was listening, but I’ve heard it all before!”

For some reason it’s a common approach – the attempt to reconcile matters by saying things that contradict the intent of doing so, such as by putting in a “but” between statements. Why can’t we just leave our “buts” out of it and make the apology meaningful? Is it about needing to be right; or to have the last word; or to make the other person wrong; or to justify bad behaviour? Or, is it unfinished venting? Or?

For this week’s Conflict Mastery Quest(ions) blog and questions below, I suggest you consider a time the other person turned an apology into a statement of what they didn’t like about you or what you did, and another time when you did that sort of thing.

  • What did the other person say that started as an apology and ended up with blame of some sort?
  • What was the impact on you of the above?
  • For what did you hear the person blaming you that was new to the interaction between you?
  • What was a continuation of what had already been said?
  • What might have been unfinished for the other person that they put a “but” into their apology?
  • What else might be the reason?
  • If you consider a time you apologized to someone with whom you were in a conflict and added a “but”, what did you say?
  • What remained unresolved for you that you did so? For what other reason did you?
  • What were you actually sorry for? For what were you not sorry?
  • What do you think the ingredients are of a sincere apology?
  • What else occurs to you as you consider these questions?
  • What insights do you have?

#conflictcoaching
#conflictmanagementcoaching
#conflict
#conflictmanagement
#conflictresolution
#questions
#apologizing
#ADR

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Are You Really Listening?

“Are you really listening…or are you just waiting for your turn to talk?” R. Montgomery

Listening is likely the most needed skill when in conflict. However, as this quote indicates, it is more often that we are not really hearing what the other person is saying – just waiting to speak. Or, we interrupt to get our point across sooner than later. In my experience as a conflict specialist, I commonly hear from coaching clients or observe in mediations a strong tendency to shut down the other person by not listening and really hearing. Or, we selectively choose what we hear and respond to that.

When in the midst of conflict, it’s not easy to just listen, to not filter the conversation the way we think or feel it is going, to stay calm, and to really hear what the other person is saying. It’s not easy to ask questions, to clarify, or to check out assumptions. It’s not easy to hear things that hurt and offend. It’s not easy to make sure we know what the other person is conveying that reflects what is important to them and challenges what is important to us. It’s not easy to hold off expressing our views and “fighting” back.

Here are some Conflict Mastery Quest(ions) to consider about a dispute you are or were recently in and check out what you heard:

  • What is or was the dispute about?
  • What did you have most trouble hearing that the other person said?
  • What did you have most trouble understanding about what they said?
  • What did the other person say that hurt you most?
  • What assumptions are you making about the other person’s intent for saying the things that hurt you?
  • What do you think the other person’s perception is of the dispute?
  • What about their perception is understandable? What isn’t?
  • What important point that you made do you think the other person didn’t hear? Why do you think that is the case?
  • What assumptions is the other person making about you because you don’t think they heard you?
  • What might help you both listen and hear each other?
  • What else occurs to you as you consider these questions?
  • What insights do you have?

#conflictcoaching
#conflictmanagementcoaching
#conflict
#conflictmanagement
#conflictresolution
#questions
#listening
#ADR

Posted in Conflict Coaching, Conflict Management Coaching, Listening | Leave a comment

Words Are Like Spears

A Yoruban proverb goes “Words are like spears: Once they leave your lips they can never come back.” In the conflict management field, where I spend most of my time, I have to say this quote and its meaning struck me as more profound than many. In the midst of conflict, many of us say things we regret and agonize about for long periods, even when the conflict is ostensibly over. What is more, there is no taking back the things that cut us deeply or that we say that cut others deeply. Rather, there is often an indelible mark left by sharp words.

This week’s Conflict Mastery Quest(ions) blog asks you to consider a time when someone expressed spear-like words to you and another when you expressed words that hurt someone deeply.

  • When you think of a time someone said something very hurtful to you that remains raw, what was that?
  • What made that (your answer to the above question) especially cutting?
  • How would you describe the feelings you experienced as a result?
  • When you think about the interaction now, what do you think led to the person saying something that hurt so deeply?
  • For what have you forgiven the person for? What have you not forgiven?
  • What might heal the wound for you?
  • When you have hurt someone else deeply, what did you say and do? What propelled you to do so?
  • What do you think the other person feels about this now?
  • What has stuck with you for which you cannot forgive yourself?
  • What might you do to help heal the other person’s wound?
  • What else occurs to you as you consider these questions?
  • What insights do you have?

#conflictcoaching
#conflictmanagementcoaching
#conflict
#conflictmanagement
#conflictresolution
#questions
#ADR

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Peace Within

Being at peace within ourselves, interacting peacefully, caring about peace, looking peaceful and engendering peace. These and other ways of living and embodying peace are ways of being in the world and in our relationships that show we have peace in us. If it happens though that one (or more) of these characteristics falls away when we are in conflict, it is a time to consider how to regain peace within. Otherwise, the inner conflict ends up being both internally and externally harmful.

When this happens, we may say or do things contrary to our values; we might offend the other person; and we may lose perspective, understanding and empathy.

You may be asking, is it possible to maintain peace within when we encounter others’ anger, when we are hurt, or when we become offended and caught off-guard by insults and verbal attacks on our character and things important to us?

This week’s Conflict Mastery Quest(ions) blog suggests the answer to this question is no, and invites you to consider the following:

  • As you bring to mind an interpersonal dispute in which you reacted, what was it specifically that unsettled your inner peace?
  • How do you usually describe that state of peace inside you?
  • How do you usually describe how you appear in your state of peace?
  • When your inner peace was disrupted in the dispute to which you referred to above, how did you react outwardly?
  • When your inner peace was disrupted, how did you react inwardly?
  • How did you prefer to be described at this time?
  • What could you have said differently to retain your peaceful way of being?
  • What could you have done for yourself to be able to maintain your equilibrium?
  • What stopped you from doing the above (in response to the above 2 questions)?
  • What might you do differently in the future if you experience your inner peace being challenged? What would you say differently?
  • What else occurs to you as you consider these questions?
  • What insights do you have?

#conflictcoaching
#conflictmanagementcoaching
#conflict
#conflictmanagement
#conflictresolution
#questions
#ADR

Posted in Conflict Coaching, Conflict Management Coaching, Peace | Leave a comment

Conflict: Getting In Our Own Way

It happens, at times, that we get in our own way when a conflict erupts or is about to. This means doing things like making assumptions about the other person without checking them out; blaming; taking all the responsibility; not taking any responsibility; yielding; avoiding; name-calling; withdrawing; having selective recall that serves us only; not forgiving; not apologizing for our part; and so on.

These and other ways we might choose to manage a fractious interaction get in our way of effective engagement and satisfactory resolution. Essentially, by choosing to speak and act in counterproductive ways, we sabotage a dispute’s potential for success, for reconciliation and for mutual understanding.

Your answers to the following questions about a specific situation in which you may have gotten in your way might provide insights into how and why:

  • What was the situation?
  • In what ways did you get in your own way?
  • For what reasons did you do that (your answer to the previous question)?
  • What about how you got in your way in that situation indicates a pattern you have about how you generally manage conflict?
  • What sorts of triggers bring on that way of reacting, i.e. the person, the issue(s), the dynamic between you and the other person, etc.?
  • What metaphor might describe you or the method you use to get in your own way when in conflict?
  • What happens when you get in your way? What stops you from getting out of your own way?
  • What methods have you used to get out of your own way in the past?
  • How might one or more of those methods work in the situation you described (in response to the first question)?
  • How might you stop yourself from getting in your way in the future?
  • What else occurs to you as you consider these questions?
  • What insights do you have?

#conflictcoaching
#conflictmanagementcoaching
#conflict
#conflictmanagement
#conflictresolution
#questions
#ADR

Posted in Conflict Coaching, Conflict Management Coaching | Leave a comment